Mill River Project Gains New Momentum (CT)
STAMFORD, Connecticut, 1/20/04: Mayor Dannel Malloy, the Mill River Collaborative, and the Trust for Public Land today announced several new developments on the Mill River Corridor project that will hasten its implementation.
Among these new developments are the hiring of Project Director Milton Puryear; creation of a civic group, the Mill River Collaborative, to help oversee implementation of the park development project; the raising of new public and private funds to help pay for the project; and new development activities and updated plans for open space along the river.
Milton Puryear, newly appointed director of the Mill River Greenway project, brings a unique combination of environmental outreach, business entrepreneurship and academic background to the Stamford community. He is a founding member and current co-chair of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Taskforce, which is working to develop a trail along 14 miles of Brooklyn’s formerly industrial and port waterfront. He attended Yale College and Harvard Business School, and developed and managed investment banking and information technology and investment research companies prior to his engagement in community and environmental restoration.
“I am pleased to join the Mill River Greenway Project, particularly at this time. A great deal of advocacy, planning, and negotiating has occurred that will soon result in the first physical improvements to the corridor. I am honored to join Mayor Malloy, the Collaborative, and the visionary citizens of Stamford in moving this project into its next phase.”
The Mayor also introduced a new civic group, the Mill River Collaborative, to help oversee the project’s progress. The Collaborative is a unique group of community, business, and governmental representatives committed to provide leadership to ensure a successful Mill River Greenway.
“The City is partnering with the Collaborative in a new way,” said Mayor Malloy. “Not just on funding and fundraising, but to ensure that all citizens of Stamford are represented and honored as we build this historic project, which has been 70 years in the making. Together, we will continue the hard work of developing these historic plans for a vibrant Greenway into a new Stamford for us all.”
The City has been the lead public partner funding the program. The City’s leadership has leveraged $4.4 million in state and federal support from the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant program, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Program Enhancement grant (STP). Federal appropriations secured by senators Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman and Representative Christopher Shays produced funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELP).
“The State of Connecticut remains committed to protecting open space and enhancing recreational opportunities in our urban areas, and it is encouraging that Stamford is actively engaged in a significant project in the very heart of the city,” said Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner David K. Leff. “It is important that we continue to pursue projects such as this to restore not only a natural resource, but our connection to it.”
New contributions from the private sector for the Mill River Greenway Project have come from the Louise B. and Edgar M. Cullman Foundation, the GE Foundation, the International Paper Company Foundation, Purdue Pharma, Reckson Associates Realty Corporation, UBS, and the Xerox Foundation. Pitney Bowes and the Overbrook Foundation have also supported these efforts.
“The strong commitment from the private sector is fundamental to successful development and implementation of the Greenway plans,” said Whitney Hatch, Vice President and Regional Director at the Trust for Public Land. “We started working on the Mill River in 2000, and it has become a model for our newly-launched Parks for People program. TPL’s work in Stamford embodies all aspects of Parks for People: supporting a community vision, constituency building, park building, and participating in and resolving long-term stewardship and funding needs.”
The funding committed, currently at over $350,000 through 2005, will support the Project and park implementation and development. This diverse and generous private support is facilitating recent progress and will allow consistent and focused development of the Mill River Corridor project over the next few years. Past funding totals more than $90,000.
“Open spaces are a non-renewable resource that contribute greatly to the quality of life of those who live and work in urban centers,” said Diana Lenkowsky of Purdue Pharma, a member of the Mill River Collaborative and major project funder. “Purdue is pleased to support this community-wide initiative, which will restore the Mill River and bring the long-term benefits of 26 acres of improved riverfront parkland to Stamford.”
The philanthropic funding also supports community programming on the Greenway and environmental education opportunities for youth. “It’s more important than ever that young people understand the importance of the natural environment and their role in preserving these resources,” said Bob Corcoran, president of the GE Foundation. “The GE Foundation is pleased to support the tremendous educational opportunity created by this initiative.”
In November 2001, the Stamford Board of Representatives, the Planning Board, the Board of Finance, and the Urban Redevelopment Commission overwhelmingly approved the Mill River Corridor Plan. This process of approval was the culmination of Mayor Malloy’s vision to implement the creation of a 26-acre greenway along a 1.9-mile stretch of river. Included in the greenway plan is the establishment of a central park in Stamford, the creation of walking and bike paths along the river, and the construction of 3 new pedestrian bridges.
Since 2001, substantial new parkland has been acquired including the area between the River and Greenwich Avenue north of Richmond Hill Avenue, an area east of the river between Richmond Hill Avenue and I-95, and several sites on Main Street and West Park Place. Plans are being completed for the reconstruction of the Main Street Bridge. Separate plans are being completed for the construction of new paths for pedestrians and bicyclists with new lighting and landscaping between West Broad Street and Tresser Boulevard on the west side of the River. Surveying has been completed and plans are in progress for the continuation of the Greenway between Tresser Boulevard and Richmond Hill Avenue.
Mr. Puryear, in conjunction with Mayor Malloy and the City, will pursue an ambitious slate of improvements scheduled for 2004. By mid-2004 construction is expected to begin on the paths at the north end of the park and a plan for a new playground is expected to be finalized. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to finalize its recommendations relating to the revitalization of the river. Among alternatives being considered are the removal of the dam and retaining walls and the restoration of the aquatic and riparian resources of the river.
The Mill River Collaborative is a group of civic, governmental, and business interests committed to create and sustain a successful Mill River Greenway. Their vision is to have a world-class urban park in the Mill River Corridor that will serve as both an oasis in city life and a vibrant, diverse green space for the Stamford community.
The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, the Trust has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 329,000 acres in New England. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine, for the fourth year running, has rated TPL as one of the nation’s most efficient conservation charities. For more information, visit www.tpl.org/connecticut.